Remote Alaskan Villages Hit Hard by Historic Floods, Authorities Assessing Damages

by Shelby Scott

Over the weekend, the remnants of Typhoon Merbok slammed much of the Alaskan coast bringing with it a massive flood. The destructive storm made its way toward the coast taking a path through the Bering Strait. The storm spanned 1,000 miles of coastline and had a serious impact on the state’s Western cities, towns, and communities. That said, floodwaters began receding as early as Sunday. Now though, authorities have quickly realized some of the worst-stricken communities are also some of the United States’ most remote. As recovery efforts begin, officials have reached out to these communities, attempting to assess their overall needs.

According to the New York Post, authorities cataloging storm damage began reaching out to remote communities on Monday. Miraculously, the outlet reports zero injuries or fatalies. Structural damage, however, is extensive, with rushing floodwater pulling homes off of their foundations. Roads, ports, and seawalls also sustained significant damage, with the Alaskan flood wreaking havoc on water and sewage systems.

Nevertheless, while the damage sustained from the flooding is serious, many of Alaska’s airports are open. That said, officials have begun making either permanent or temporary repairs to runways in an effort to begin recuperating from the recent storm.

Alaska’s Worst Struck Communities:

Kaitlyn Lardeo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said water remaining from the flood will be especially slow to recede in Alaskan towns including Kotzebue, Kivalina, and Shishmaref. Shishmaref saw storm surges reaching 5.5 feet above the normal tide. Kotzebue and Kivalina experienced smaller storm surges, but were still without power as of Monday.

Further, Alaskan Governor Mike Dunleavy said that the communities most strongly impacted by the flood include Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Golovin, Newtok, and Nome. Aside from historic flooding, these communities were most affected overall: Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Golovin, Newtok, and Nome. The aforementioned Alaskan communities sustained a combination of high water, flooding, erosion, and electrical issues.

In fact, one Nome dwelling was so severely flooded by the storm, it was swept down a river until it was caught by a bridge. Nome storm surges were intense, achieving a shocking 11.1 feet above normal.

Alaskan Officials Assure Aid for All Communities Following Historic Flood

While media focus remains on the worst-stricken communities listed above, state officials have assured the public they intend to send help to all affected areas.

Jeremy Zidek, spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said, “While the needs may be greater in some, we don’t want want to neglect those other communities that have minor issues that still need to be resolved.”

That being said, emergency response groups have had trouble contacting handfuls of towns and populations as downed communications are ongoing.

Nevertheless, as recovery efforts ensue, Alaskan communities will see flood relief and assistance from the military, state, agencies, and volunteer organizations.